Category Archives: Hermeneutics

“A way to pay attention to God” by Andy Naselli

“You may be tempted to skip this chapter because you think it’s boring or relatively unimportant. Grammar doesn’t have to be boring. (I love it!)

But more importantly, grammar matters because God chose to reveal Himself to us with grammar. So paying attention to grammar is a way to pay attention to God.

The more accurately you understand grammar, the more accurately you can understand God.”

–Andy Naselli, How to Understand and Apply the New Testament: Twelve Steps From Exegesis To Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2017), p. 82.

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“Biblical theology is essential ” by Graeme Goldsworthy

“The serious and informed teaching of biblical theology is essential to the life of the church, like the hub of a wheel. The hub of the church and of the life of the believer is Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord.

He is not only the hermeneutical center of the whole Bible, but, according to the biblical testimony, He gives ultimate meaning to every fact in the universe. He is thus the hermeneutical principle of all reality.”

–Graeme Goldsworthy, “Biblical Theology as the Heartbeat of Effective Ministry,” in Biblical Theology: Retrospect & Prospect, Ed. Scott Hafemann (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 284.

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“There is another kind of reading” by John Piper

“The Bible is a book. Jesus came in the flesh and was called the Word of God. He taught many things, and He did many things. He died for sins, and He rose again. He founded the church and poured out the Holy Spirit.

All that foundational speaking and doing is preserved in a book. My ninth point is this: reading a substantial book well is hard mental work.

You learned your native language when you were very young– before you were five years old. You didn’t know you were working when you did it. And so most of us assume that reading just comes naturally.

But there is more than one kind of reading. One kind of reading is passive and involves very little aggressive effort to understand. We just take what comes and let it happen to us.

But there is another kind of reading that is very active, and digs down into the author’s mind, and wants to understand everything it sees. It may sound strange to say it, but one of the most scholarly things I ever learned was that many parts of the Bible (like Paul’s letters and Jesus’s sermons) are less like a string of pearls and more like chains of steel.

That is, the authors don’t just give a sequence of spiritual gems; they forge a chain of logical argumentation. Their statements hang together. They are linked. One connects to another, and those two connect to another, and those three to another, and so on as the unbreakable argument of glorious truth extends through a passage.

And, when the Holy Spirit enlightens our minds, this chain of argumentation is on fire.

Rigorous reading– scholarly reading– traces these kinds of argumentation. Each proposition begins with a logical connector (‘for,’ ‘that is,’ ‘as,’ ‘because,’ ‘ever since,’ ‘and,’ ‘therefore,’ etc.). These small words are among the most important in the Bible. They tell us how the statements are related to each other…

On and on the chain of argumentation grows. Words become statements, and statements are linked to form larger units. And these larger units are linked to build whole books.

The point here is simply: since much of the Bible is written this way, pastors are called to trace these arguments with active, careful, rigorous reading, and explain statements and the connections and the larger units to their people, and then apply them to their lives. This kind of reading is exceedingly demanding.

All this is involved in the fact that God revealed Himself to the church through the centuries in a book. He did not have to give the church a book. He could have done it in another way. He could have just given daily dreams to His people. He could have caused dramatizations to appear in the sky.

He could have communicated to a select few with secret knowledge and made them memorize everything and pass it on to another select few in each generation. He could have communicated to us any way He wanted to. And He did it in a book.

This is one reason that everywhere the Christian church has spread, there have been not only churches and hospitals, but also schools– places of rudimentary and then advanced scholarship. It’s because we’re dependent on a book. Since our faith is rooted in the understanding of a book, we want people to learn to read, and then to have the Bible in their language, and to learn how to think carefully and doctrinally about the book.

So the very existence of the Bible as a book signals that the pastor is called to read carefully and accurately and thoroughly and honestly.”

–John Piper and D.A. Carson, The Pastor As Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor (Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), 64-66.

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“One should also move in the other direction” by John H. Sailhamer

“Evangelical approaches to the Messiah in the Old Testament often have focused on reading the New Testament back into the Old Testament. I am suggesting that one should also move in the other direction.

The Old Testament sheds a great deal of light on the New Testament. Our primary objective should be to read the New Testament in light of the Old Testament, not vice versa.”

–John H. Sailhamer, The Meaning of the Pentateuch (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2009), 246.

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